By Reuters
December 7, 2016

SunPower, the No. 2 U.S. solar panel maker, said on Wednesday it would lay off about 25% of its workforce, or 2,500 employees, and close one plant as part of a cost-cutting plan announced last month to counter slumping prices.

Solar companies have been hard hit after stiff competition pushed prices of solar panels lower and as customers held off purchases in the hope of a further decline in prices.

SunPower, majority owned by French energy giant Total SA, said in November that its average selling price declined about 25% in the third quarter.

At that time the company also announced a cost-cutting plan that included lowering operating expenses in 2017 to about $350 million, compared with $450.9 million in 2015, and more than halving its 2017 capital budget to about $100 million.

SunPower on Wednesday said the plan would now also include closing a 700-megawatt (MW) solar cell fabrication facility, called Fab 2, in the Philippines.

The company also forecast 2017 revenue, excluding certain items, of $2.10-$2.60 billion, well below analysts average estimate of $2.70 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

SunPower’s shares were volatile in premarket trading. They were last up 0.57%.

The company said it expects to incur restructuring charges of at least $150 million on a GAAP basis in the current quarter and charges of $225-$275 million through the end of 2017.

SunPower reiterated that it expects to generate positive cash flow from operations through the end of 2017 and exit the year with about $300 million in cash.

The company had said in August that it would slash about 15% jobs as it realigned its power plant business and manufacturing operations, also cut its 2016 revenue forecast for the third time.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company’s stock had fallen more than 76% this year up to Tuesday’s close.

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